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25 years later, sheriff asks Minnesotans to leave lights on for Jacob Wetterling

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Lots of porch lights will be left on overnight.

Wednesday is the 25th anniversary of the abduction of Jacob Wetterling and the Stearns County sheriff is among those asking people to mark the occasion with a gesture in honor of Jacob and other missing children.

"In doing so," Sheriff John Sanner writes in a statement, "let us all make a personal commitment to never forget or take for granted the many blessings we do have in our lives as they can be taken from us."

Sanner says the years that have passed since 11-year-old Jacob was abducted in St. Joseph have in no way diminished the resolve of law enforcement officers at the county, state, and federal level "to provide the answers everyone has waited far too long to hear."

Law enforcement officers have worked closely with Jacob's parents, Patty and Jerry Wetterling, over the years – even getting some of the credit for saving their marriage.

Patty tells WCCO radio there came a time when investigators noticed the tension between her and her husband: “They sat us down and said we can see that you are struggling,” Wetterling said. “And we want Jacob to have a family to come home to, and we want you to get help.”

His mother says Jacob Wetterling now belongs not just to their family but to all of Minnesota. Patty tells WCCO people share stories about what they were doing when they heard the news of his abduction, not unlike historic events such as the 9/11 attacks or President Kennedy's assassination.

Wetterling says she and Jerry will mark the milestone anniversary of Jacob's abduction with friends and family, sharing laughter, tears and memories of him.

Patty Wetterling tells KARE 11 every October is difficult for the family, but says this one is especially hard. She says they never expected a 25th anniversary of the fateful day would arrive with still no answers about what happened to their son.

The latest initiative in the investigation is a billboard campaign in Stearns County. The signs feature a familiar image of Jacob at age 11 alongside a depiction of what he might look like today at age 36.

Patty Wetterling says the billboards are a sign of hope, telling KSTP: “It's a reminder that he's still out there; it is a call to action. Those of us searching are going to continue to hope and pray until we’re told differently.”

Speaking of hope, the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center is asking people to mark the anniversary by doing something to bring hope and light to the world in honor of Jacob.

The Center, whose resource director was a sixth-grade classmate of Jacob, offers 25 suggestions for ways to build hope in children.

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